December 14, 2018

Good Nutrition Can Accelerate Your Recovery

Staying well-nourished is extremely important to overall health. While everyone benefits physically and mentally from improved nutrition, people in addiction recovery will find that good nutrition can spur their recovery.

How We’re Wired

In active addiction, it is common to have less neurotransmitters functioning in the brain due to poor nutrition and altered amino acids.  Levels of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins can be affected by a history of drug and alcohol abuse, messing up the moods, cravings, attention, appetite, memory and even impulses of the body. Biochemical imbalances, such as those caused by these disrupted neurotransmitters, can be further aggravated by nutritional deficits and poor diets.

During addiction treatment, professionals will monitor a patient’s health in order to assist in recovery.. Eating a well-balanced diet can help addiction treatment patients regulate hypoglycemia and improve deficiencies, while maintaining meal consistency through schedules can help manage a broader spectrum of issues.  These issues include stress and irregular sleeping patterns. During most stages of rehabilitation, nutritional counseling may also be offered by dieticians in addition to traditional therapy. Even post-recovery, continuing with positive health habits and nutritional education is highly recommended.

Nutrition for substance abuse recovery

Healthy Eating Habits

Foods can affect distinct parts of the body by region. Similarly, every organ is affected differently by substance abuse, important vitamins and minerals absorbed can aid in targeting specific organs. For addicts who have lung problems due to abuse via inhalation methods, foods containing antioxidants, magnesium, and omega-3’s are the place to look. Berries, kale, spinach, artichokes, apples and salmon offer a myriad of benefits that can improve your breathing and blood flow. When focusing on the liver (for those with addictions to alcohol, inhalants, or injectables), garlic, cauliflower, berries, raisins, broccoli, onions, and pink grapefruit can assist due to their high levels of sulfur and antioxidants. Long-term addiction can also have negative impacts on the brain, and clean eating can be used to treat cognitive impairment in combination with other therapeutic modalities. Salmon, green tea, avocadoes, tomatoes, ginger and walnuts can support brain cell restoration and improve thinking.

As a whole, food groups such as whole grains, fiber, quality fats, fruits, veggies and proteins can do wonders. On the other hand, some food groups may be best to avoid, as poor nutrition is one of the critical risk factors for substance abuse and may increase chances of relapse. Sugar, processed foods, additives, white flour, hydrogenated oils, and caffeine should all be added to your “don’t list” during recovery. It is also advised to never allow six hours to pass without eating anything, except between dinner and breakfast.

Alternative Methods

Aside from nutritional remedies, there are several natural methods established which don’t revolve around food. Exercising regularly, getting enough light and natural supplements such as 5-HTP, Vitamins B6 and B12 and Folate may be of assistance. Above all, it is most important to listen to your body and treat it with care going forward. Recovery is a never-ending process and good nutrition will go a long way to bolster your sobriety.


About the Author

Alexandra Bautista is a content intern at Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, SEO and Social Engagement in healthcare and tourism. Ms. Bautista is a senior at The University of Central Florida majoring in psychology and entertainment management.